The Settling of Our Souls
FOR YEARS—MAYBE FORTY, OR EVEN LONGER—I’ve been taken with Paul’s Prison Epistle prayers. Those of you who’ve been with me through the years know I’ve come back to them over and over. You probably think I’m stuck. Well, I guess I am, until the power of what they are reaching toward has fully laid hold on me—and you.
Through the articles of this series on Intercession we have considered these prayers. In them we pick up on principles of Kingdom life that cannot be grasped by human effort. They come through the work of the Holy Spirit, and—we find this by Paul’s example—this comes in response to praying, particularly the supplication of intercessors.
Recently I spoke to a group of men, some of whom I had never met. I have a tendency when I’m speaking to open whatever Scripture is currently working in my own heart. Therefore, I spoke with them of what I was seeing with regard to the Kingdom of God. Afterwards I thought my words were probably too much to lay on those men. However, the expression on their faces did not indicate this. After I went away, I knew I must continue holding them before the Throne in prayer. Only by this will the full light of the Word they heard break forth into the inner man of each one.
My longing has come to be that there will be a people made ready to share with Christ Jesus in His Kingdom and in His inheritance here on earth. The conviction has come upon us that this, besides evangelism, is the most vital ministry of the church for this hour. We realize that the convictions of many concerning this vary greatly. The first inkling of an idea that there is something beyond the initial work of God’s grace and its offer of heaven came to me one day back in the fifties. A dear man said to me, "You know, Brother Corley, we are saved by grace, but we receive God’s Kingdom only as we are qualified for it."
I’d never heard anything like this. All I thought about the Kingdom was that it was offered to the Jews, they rejected it, and it wouldn’t come again till the church was taken to heaven. That brother didn’t offer me any more insight but I was left with a strong desire to know that Kingdom. I was also left with the Holy Spirit and the Bible—and a few brethren who would dare speak with me of the Kingdom of God in a way that was different from what the Jehovah’s Witnesses were saying. I could not accept the tenets of their movement. Although they speak of the Kingdom, they do not hold the Lord Jesus at the center of their commitment.
I RECEIVED GOD'S GRACE unto salvation well over fifty years ago. I received the infilling of His Spirit in 1956. And, with a divine resolution that won’t give in, since that time He has not ceased working in me with a draw toward His Kingdom.
How many, oh how many, there are who have no more challenge offered them than to sit in church and have their ears titillated and their emotions aroused to expect the soon return of the Lord! Their anticipated goal is the rapture and the sweet peace of heaven. All this keeps some religious professionals living well. But, in the midst of the crowd, there is a company who have caught a glimpse of something more. It is something that will not let go and that keeps drawing us on to know the rule and reach of God’s Kingdom presently, though it is contested in every way imaginable by every force hell can conceive.
I believe those prayers of Paul express in capsule form the desire of the Holy Spirit to bring us into that Kingdom. They lead toward qualities that will make us acceptable and useful in it.
Even at the risk of being too repetitious, we want to look at them again to see them as though we haven’t seen them before. We want them to break forth clean in our hearts and bring a fresh impact on our understanding, our faith and our commitment to the Kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:5).
With regard to the Kingdom I want to make some quick observation. In all the four Gospels in only two verses does the Lord Jesus mention the church (Mt 16:18 and 18:17). There are well over a hundred verses where the Kingdom is mentioned. All the ministers of the Book of Acts proclaimed the Kingdom of God as a present reality.
When meeting for the last time with the elders from the church in Ephesus, Paul made a revealing statement. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more—Act 20:25. From there he went on to Jerusalem, was soon arrested and taken to Rome where he spent those last good years in jail, from whence he wrote what we’re studying.
Some teach that Acts describes the closing-out period of the Kingdom but we find Paul in the very last verse still preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ (Act 28:31). It was from this period of his life that he wrote the Epistles from which we take the Scriptures of this article. Indeed, at the heart of each Epistle, written to Gentile believers, we find the Kingdom of God and those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.
Though Paul made little use of the word "kingdom" in the Epistles, from Acts we discover what was at the heart of his writing. We see the principles of Kingdom life throughout the Epistles.
BEFORE WE LOOK AGAIN at the prayers recorded in three of the Letters Paul wrote from jail— Ephesians and Philippians, and then Colossians—we should take note of something to be seen regarding them in the Greek, the language of the early New Testament. There we find Paul emphasized the points of his praying by use, seven times, of the Greek word hína. When I saw his repeated use of this word, I recognized that at each use there was a significant point of request regarding the rule of God. In its simplest state hína means "in order that." Paul was making precise and definite petitions in prayer "in order that" the people might become ready for their role and function with Christ in His Kingdom.
There is something else to be observed in the Greek. Many of the Verb forms Paul used as he told of praying lent emphasis and finality to his requests. These points are sometimes weakened in the translations, but they are distinct in the Original. He used the Aorist form of certain Verbs to emphasize the final purpose toward which he was praying. He also used the Perfect form several times to emphasize the completion of some action with a result that would continue.
A WORD ABOUT VERBS…The Verb, in any language, is a word that expresses some action or state of being. The NT Greek Verb was highly developed and able to express fine points about its action. While the Present Tense form of a Verb expresses action that goes on and on, the Aorist Tense expresses an action that is settled, or finished. The Perfect Tense expresses an action that, once settled, has a result that remains.
Since it’s high time for us to get our lives into line with what is right for the Kingdom, we want to look at these prayers again "at one fell swoop." They point to the only place any of us can be certain of protection and provision—and rightness—in the time of trouble looming now on the horizon. That place is in the realm of His Kingdom. The prayers also work toward making us acceptable to Christ in His judgment of those who will stand with Him in the Kingdom.
We quote the prayers—there are four of them—from the commonly used King James Version, but with the liberty of interspersing some comments. Instead of breaking them down as we have in the past into twelve petitions, we will consider them as they are marked by the seven uses of the word hína. We enlarge and underline this word, always translated as THAT. Not every that, however, comes from hína. Some of the prayers are complex but the Holy Spirit will help bring them over into our use. And remember, they are not surface prayers. They go deep in their quest for qualities that answer the demands of the Kingdom of God.
THE FIRST PRAYER (with
a threefold objective)— That We Become
(In verse 18 • being enlightened is from a Perfect form
of the Verb photízo, meaning "having come to
a place of enlightenment and remaining there." The enlightenment is to
come to the understanding, the part in us that can grasp
truth and make it applicable in life. The words • may know are from a Perfect form of the Verb oída, meaning "that you may come to a place of instinctive knowledge,
where you remain, so you can continue in your knowing." Take note of what
it is that is to become firm, that is, fixed, in our knowing. The three
uses of the word what reveal this.)
THE SECOND PRAYER— That the Government
(The words • would grant are from the Aorist form of the Verb dídomi which means "to give." Its use here means "that He would release it once for all over into your lives." • To be strengthened is from an Aorist form of the Verb krataióo. This word relates to government, but in the sense of taking control and setting up a new rule. I feel justified in translating it "that you might be governed" with might, that is, with dynamic power (dúnamis), by His Spirit at work in the inner man. In verse 17 we see the result of the inner man coming under this new order. It is that Christ may have a dwelling place in you. The words • may dwell are from an Aorist form of katoikéo which means "to have an abode." Thus, the intent is that Christ might have an acceptable and permanent place to live in us. This is brought on by our utter faith in Him.)
17a … (3) THAT ye, • being rooted and grounded
(• Being rooted and grounded gives us two Perfect forms meaning that the work to which they refer has been completed, but with a result that continues. This, of course, leaves work for the intercessor. In verse 18, the words • may be able are from an Aorist form of the word ischúo, which is one of the Eph 1:19 words relating to the power of Christ’s Resurrection. I call it the "muscle power" of the Resurrection. It means here, "that you might have the inward strength and power of will necessary for the challenge before you." And that challenge is to comprehend...the love of Christ. To comprehend is from an Aorist form of the Verb katalambáno which means "to grasp," or "to take possession of." Take note of the extent of the love which we are to grasp in our qualifying for function in Christ’s Kingdom. • To know of 3:19 is different from the knowing of Eph 1:18. There it is an instinctive knowing from the Verb oída. Here it is an acquired knowing from the Verb ginósko. We are to come to the place where we know instinctively the things to which Eph 1:18,19 make their reference. But, since it is beyond human comprehension, we must find instruction as to what is the love of Christ. It is so profound that our knowledge of it must be more than an instinctive knowledge. Jesus will teach us what it is.)
19b …(4) THAT ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.
(• Might be filled is from an Aorist form of the Verb plaróo which means "to fill or to possess fully." Here it means "that
you might come to your completion in being filled" with the life that
emanates from God.)
THE THIRD PRAYER (with
a twofold objective)— That We Will Become,
(In this prayer, instead of the Aorist or Perfect form of the Verb, Paul makes use of the Present Tense. This helps us see that the reach is toward an action that goes on and on. The words • may abound are, indeed, from a Present form of the Verb perusseúo which means "to be over and beyond." This helps us see that the love abiding in us should never cease in its abounding increase. Love reaches into the eternities of God and holds a fullness that will always exceed our comprehension. The increase of this love within us will always require knowledge, which is epignósis—"full knowledge or acknowledgment," and judgment, which is "perception, or spiritual understanding."
• May approve is from a Present form of dokimázo which means "to prove something by examination." Thus, the prayer is that we, with love, may always have the spiritual capacity to examine a matter thoroughly and determine the more excellent way.)
l0b …(6) THAT ye • may be sincere and
without offence till the day of Christ;
(• May be is from a Present form of the simple Verb eími which means, simply, "to be." The prayer
is reaching toward what we are in the essence of our beings. We are to
be, without ceasing, sincere and without offense. All the
supplication of this prayer reaches toward one gaining admittance, past
the judgment of Christ, into His eternal Kingdom.)
THE FOURTH PRAYER (the final objective)
Knowledge is from epignósis which we’ve found means "acknowledgment." This prayer is "that you might come to your completion in acknowledgment of what God wants." Rowing out of this is that ye · might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.
Might walk is an Aorist form. This would indicate that our walk, that is, our manner of life, is to be a settled matter with no straying from the path. This will bring us into the state of being always pleasing to the Lord and always bearing fruit for His Kingdom. The acknowledgment of Him as the Lord of our life will only increase, I think, throughout eternity.
Then, see the outflow. It is that we will be • strengthened with all might. This is "empowered," from dunamóo, "with all power," from dúnamis." Both words point to the enabling power brought into us by the Spirit of God. All this leads to three wonderful qualities of Kingdom life: Patience, the ability to endure hardship and affliction, long-suffering, the ability to put up with people who cause grief, and joyfulness, our reward in the Kingdom.)
THE CONCLUSION of our praying is with thanksgiving and some statements of realization. • Giving thanks unto the Father, Which • hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who • hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and • hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son (Col 1:12,13)
(• Giving thanks is a simple thing to do, yet we are reminded to do it over and over, especially for the people we hold in our supplications and for the life He has given us to live out of the resources of His Kingdom. • Hath made us meet is from an Aorist form of the Verb ikanóo which means "to make one competent or sufficient." He will make us equal to the demand of any task or situation that may come upon us as we walk in our inheritance with His saints. • Hath delivered is from an unusual Verb that means "to rescue, or to drag" someone from danger. Oh, He has rescued us from the power, that is the "authority," of "the" darkness! • Hath translated is from the Aorist form of the Verb methístemi which means "to cause a change of position; to transfer."
Finally, let us not even belabor the point, but let us see it clearly. He has transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son. Amen!
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